On the Wild Side

Wild and wonderful, furry or feathered, there are all sorts of incredible wild animals who share our world!

Wild animals are also called wildlife. Where do they live and what do they need to survive and care for their families?

  • Water. Streams, ponds, rivers or other clean water sources.
  • Natural wild foods. Native plants, berries, insects, rodents and other animals.
  • Shelter. Trees, dead hollow trees, logs, rocks, bushes, burrows, lakes or ocean.
  • Safe travel. Safe ways to get across or around roads and buildings.
  • Community. Other animals of their own kind.
  • Freedom. To be left in the wild.

Wildlife emergencies

Have you ever found a baby bird in your backyard who fell from a nest? Have you seen an opossum lying on the road on your way to school? These are both examples of wildlife emergencies. These animals may need your help, but it's important to know how to safely handle any wildlife emergency before taking action. If you think a wild animal or bird needs help, remember these three important rules:

  1. Don't touch the animal. Most wild animals are terrified of people, especially if they are hurt and can't get away.
  2. Find an adult you trust (such as your parent, grandparent or teacher). Tell them the animal needs help. Together the two of you can follow the next step.
  3. Immediately call PAWS for advice on what to do next. You can reach PAWS Wildlife Center at 425.412.4040.

Wild animals don’t make good pets

There are many important reasons why wild animals should not be kept as pets:

  • It is against the law to keep wild animals as pets in most places. Keeping wildlife as pets is harmful to both the animals and the humans who try to keep them as pets.
  • They can carry diseases that can spread to people and other animals. For example, Prairie Dogs sometimes carry Monkey Pox. 
  • Wild animals have natural instincts that can be dangerous, even if the animal was raised by humans. They may bite or scratch without warning. They are not trying to be mean, but are acting out their natural behavior.
  • Wild animals need a lot of room to roam and forage for food. Raccoons climb trees and cougars and tigers need miles and miles to roam and explore. They can’t do these things as pets, and may destroy your house trying.

Keep yourself and the wild animals safe and happy by leaving them in the wild to live and care for their families in their natural environment.

Feeding wildlife

Did you know that bread and crackers are very unhealthy for wild animals and birds? People feed human foods like these to wildlife because they think they are helping them, but in reality feeding wild animals can cause a lot of harm.

If wild animals and birds eat too much human food, their bones and feathers may become deformed. Sometimes these foods can become a sticky mass in a bird’s throat that can only be removed by surgery.

It is never a good idea to leave any food outside, including your pet’s food. If you feed wildlife, they will forget how to be wild and they may also get sick eating the wrong foods. For even more information, check out the effects of feeding wildlife.

Ways to help and enjoy wildlife

If you really love wild animals, here are ways you can help and enjoy them:

  • Don’t feed wildlife. They have plenty of natural food in the wild.
  • Plant a wildlife garden to provide a healthy and natural place for wildlife to live and forage. 
  • Become a habitat explorer. Observe the animals in your yard and the signs they leave behind, then learn more about them in books or on the Internet. You can become the animal expert in your neighborhood!

If you want to learn more about wildlife and the work PAWS does to help orphaned and injured wildlife, check out the PAWS Wildlife Center.

Washington wildlife

Washington State is a wild place. The state is world famous for having many mountains, forests and waterways. Many species, or kinds of wild animals, live in these wild places and in our neighborhoods, too. Learn more about some of the most common wild animals found in the area:

Garter Snakes